The rise of the back office
Big Data If industry machinations and vendor maneuverings continue to conspire in their current direction, then we could be about to witness a computing age inside which the “back office” suddenly becomes a lot sexier.
Well not exactly sexy sexier as such, but certainly we can envisage back room IT mechanics becoming a more prevalent part of boardroom discussions as they also feature more pertinently inside strategic corporate business development plans at all levels.
This new IT standard will come about due in part to so-called big data and the layers of analytics and information management that we seek to exert upon it.
Of course there is no such thing as big data; all data is comparatively small in the big picture. But we now look at big data as a new classification composed of unstructured data types such as video and voice, along with the massive amount of sensor-based data created by what we now call the Internet of Things.
As we now seek to gain control of big unstructured data (and the more standardised shapes of structured data too), then the potential to use Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software becomes tantalisingly interesting.
Really? Back office data management software set to tantalise? Well yes. We also know ERP by its other name which is software designed to manage ‘systems of record’… and this stuff has been around for more than the last decade. But where ERP goes next within the context of big data and predictive analytics is the sexy part.
If ERP truly comes of age (and yes, this will be cloud-based ERP), then it could go mainstream so-to-speak. In this brave new world of data warehousing and machine learning-driven intelligence we see basic transaction control systems being used for a lot more than order processing and invoicing.
Back end back office data management software now has the potential to extend right through the IT stack. This journey takes us from the firm’s core operational software system, outward to user interactions and transitions, then back into our analytics engines, then straight back to our users in real time.
Just to restate the point. That cycle all happens in real time. Or at least upon processing and communication channels that give the user the perception that things happen instantaneously.
A user logs into a mobile device in a store and finds that he or she can purchase products from a smartphone or tablet that feeds back direct Customer Relationship Management (CRM) type offers and promotions. The back end has connected with the front end and cloud ERP made it happen.
This is where big data gets sexy, this is where ERP and CRM get sexy, and this is where we start to manage our data for true competitive advantage. We are not quite there yet, but the momentum here will be unstoppable.